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Date(s) - 28/10/2015
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Theatre Auditorium, The University Club of Western Australia

A public lecture by Jonathan Marks, Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina


Human evolution is the scientific narrative of who we are and where we came from, which for any other society would be considered to lie in the domain of kinship and origin myth. All such narratives are bio-political, and because of this value-ladenness, the study of human evolution is broader than the data of palaeontology, archaeology, and genetics. For example, it has traditionally been considered more scientific to emphasize our continuity with the apes over our discontinuity. In fact, evolution produces both patterns simultaneously – descent and modification.

Understanding the choice to over-emphasize our continuity with the apes (descent) involves engaging with the hermeneutic aspect of science, not the empiric aspect. And although we may sometimes be uncomfortable with it, narratives of human macroevolution are invariably bound up with narratives of human microevolution.

Jonathan Marks is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he has taught since the beginning of the present millennium, after brief stretches at Yale and Berkeley. His primary training is in biological anthropology and genetics, but his interests are broad. In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In the last few years he has been a Visiting Research Fellow ajon_marks-165t the ESRC Genomics Forum in Edinburgh, at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and a Templeton Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Notre Dame. His work has received the W. W. Howells Book Prize and the General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship from the American Anthropological Association and the J. I. Staley Prize from the School for Advanced Research. He is the author of What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee and Why I Am Not a Scientist, both published by the University of California Press. Paradoxically, however, he is about 98% scientist, and not a chimpanzee.


Venue: Theatre Auditorium, The University Club of Western Australia

Parking: P3, off Hackett Entrance 1

Cost: Free, but RSVP essential.

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